Natural Modes

The Melodic Major Modes or Natural Modes and Arpeggios

Most guitarists who know anything about the modes on guitar know these basic 7 modes. The natural modes, melodic major modes as i prefer to call them, are those that come out of the major scale. in solfeggio we know these notes as

Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do

As I said earlier, I prefer to call them by these numeric names

1 2 3 4 5 6 71

Notice that both end on the same tone on which they begin. There’s a reason for this: at that point the frequency has doubled, causing the note to have the same sound in relationship to the root, or bottom note of the scale. Okay, we’re getting into some deep stuff here. We’ll explore the reasons for that in more detail when we talk about harmonic structure and overtones.

These modes are called “diatonic.” They are made up of the two types of intervals (or steps between the notes) called whole steps (or whole tones) and half steps. The whole step is an interval with a space in between. For example, between C and D is C# (C sharp), or Db (D flat). A whole step interval on the guitar would be 2 notes with an empty fret in between – for example the 1st and 3rd frets on the 1st string. A half step is an interval of 2 adjacent notes – there is no note in between them. On the guitar these would simply be notes on to adjacent frets, such as the 3rd and 4th fret on the first string.

In all the modes in this first group, there are 2 half steps and the whole steps are arranged in two groups – a group of 2 and a group of 3. Take a look below and you’ll see what i mean:

Ionian Mode – W W 1/2 W W W 1/2

So from 1 to 2, is a whole step. From 2 to 3 is a whole step. From 3 to 4 is a 1/2 step, and so on. Now here are the rest of this group of 7 modes:

Dorian Mode – W 1/2 W W W 1/2 W

Phrygian Mode – 1/2 W W W 1/2 W W

Lydian Mode – W W W 1/2 W W 1/2

Mixolydian Mode – W W 1/2 W W 1/2 W

Aeolian Mode – W 1/2 W W 1/2 W W

Locrian Mode – 1/2 W W 1/2 W W W

For diagrams showing how all these modes are played in 7 positions, as well as how they relate to one another and their arpaeggios and associated chords, please look into the Modal Guitarist Series of instructional books. The Modal Guitarist books contain a simple approach to music theory custom-designed with guitarists in mind.

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